January 4, 2007

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Black Christmas (R)
Completely unlikable sorority sisters are, to the sadness of no one, brutally and violently murdered by a psycho killer on Christmas Eve in Black Christmas, a movie whose only redeeming value is that it ends.

OK, here we go: Michelle Tractenberg (best known as Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Katie Cassidy (Zoe on Seventh Heaven), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (character who dies in The Ring 2 and Final Destination 3), Lacey Chabert (Claudia from Party of Five) and Kristen Cloke (Lara Means in Millennium). These are the most memorable and most recognizable of the sorority sisters. There’s also Andrea Martin, who plays the house mother, and a few tertiary girls, whose names we barely learn before they’re dispatched, eyes cut out—this killer has a thing about eyes. Their character names, their personalities—I assure you, these things are not important to the movie in any way. Just about everyone eventually dies and at some point you realize that people you thought were dead aren’t and people you thought weren’t dead are and that it doesn’t make any difference because, really, how is one shiny-haired WB-er all that different from another?

Billy (Robert Mann) was born a yellow baby because of a liver dysfunction and unloved because I guess his mother had a problem with yellow. He was abused and mistreated in just about every way possible and eventually sent to jail for murdering his family on Christmas—in a particularly nice holiday touch, he cuts Christmas cookie shapes out of his mom’s flesh, bakes them and is mid-snack when the cops show up. Luckily he’s been locked far, far away in a prison from which he can never possibly escape.

A-hem.

The house once occupied by Billy and family is now a sorority house, packed full of bitchy, classless girls. As they prepare to head home (or just get drunk) for Christmas Eve, the girls start to go missing, one by one, until finally the remaining girls figure out (with some help from terror-inducing phone calls) that they are being stalked by a vicious killer intent on eating their eyeballs and suffocating them.

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Fun fact about the 1974 movie on which this movie is based—Margot Kidder is the most recognizable name among the sorority girls in that version. Does this mean that Michelle Trachtenberg is destined to play the love interest to a superhero? For her sake I hope so. I hope she doesn’t end up like poor Andrea Martin, back to play an older character in the remake 22 years hence.

Actually, there’s another pretty recognizable name connected to this remake—Glen Morgan. Morgan was a writer for The X-Files and Millennium, the brain behind some of the best, creepiest episodes of those series. Along with James Wong (another refugee from the Chris Carter projects), Morgan put together Final Destination, a horror film that spawned two sequels and would occasionally surprise you with its sly sense of humor. Black Christmas has not just slyness but it did have hints of slyness, bits so small I can’t even give specific scenes or pieces of dialogue, just the sense that in camera angles and inflections and other very, very small ways someone behind the character couldn’t completely give up being a wiseass.

Not that I’m saying you should see the movie or that it has any redemptive qualities. It doesn’t and you shouldn’t. Perhaps I’m just saying we should all keep an eye on Mr. Glen Morgan. Maybe the next movie won’t require him to leave his brain at home. F

Rated R for everything about it (specifically, strong horror violence and gore, sexuality, nudity and language). Directed by Glen Morgan and written by Morgan from the 1974 script by Roy Moore, Black Christmas is 84 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by 2929 Entertainment.